Black Widow (2021, dir. Cate Shortland)

Natasha Romanoff reunites with her estranged fake family to disrupt a post-Soviet Russian agent programme. Patchy Marvel SF/spy adventure (the first Phase 4 movie) awkwardly balancing dysfunctional familial bickering and action set-pieces. A strong cast helps, as does a relatively low-stakes approach and some attempts at character.

Here’s the trailer.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016, dir. Ang Lee)

A troubled war hero about to be redeployed struggles with life in America. Its glossy direction and staging notwithstanding, this is an at-times awkward drama that doesn’t offer much new except in its good intentions and immaculate technical credits. Perhaps an indication that not all novels are translatable to film.

Here’s the trailer.

Freaky (2020, dir. Christopher Landon)

An awkward teenager and a serial killer swap bodies. Superior horror-comedy, maximising the potential of its Freaky Friday-meets-high school slasher conceit, along the lines of Landon’s earlier mashup Happy Death Day. Plenty of fun, a few straightforward though relevant points made, and zippy lead performances help no end.

Here’s the trailer.

Infinite (2021, dir. Antoine Fuqua)

A man with mental health issues finds that he is the current incarnation of an immortal, and that a war wages for Earth’s survival. Clumsy and often incoherent Highlander / The Matrix / The Old Guard wannabe for lovers of the later Fast and the Furious movies. No-one comes out of this with much dignity. Not great at all.

Here’s the trailer.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972, dir. Ronald Neame)

Survivors of an upturned cruise liner race against time to climb to the bottom of the ship. Earnest and clunky, this early entrant into the 70s disaster movie cycle is nevertheless impressive in its technical credits and its commitment of approach, and in its blending of veteran, current, and emerging onscreen talent. Based on a Paul Gallico novel: a sequel and other adaptations followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Free Guy (2021, dir. Shawn Levy)

A man living an idealistic life finds out that he’s a non-playing character in a video game. Generally sprightly action comedy that mashes up The Truman Show and They Live to pleasing if disposable effect. No huge surprises, though there’s a few neat gags and further evidence supplied that Taika Waititi is many things but not an actor.

Here’s the trailer.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021, dir. Alan Taylor)

A late 60s/early 70s New Jersey teenager is raised in a mob-affiliated household and neighbourhood. This The Sopranos prequel works as a both an insight into the earlier lives of that series’ main characters, and as a stand-alone movie. Tony Soprano very much a supporting character here: the focus is on his uncle Dickie, played by a never-better Alessandro Nivola.

Here’s the trailer.

No Time to Die (2021, dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga)

A retired Bond combats the threat of a stolen bioweapon. Last of the Craig-era pics, this is the Avengers: Endgame of Bond flicks, rounding out a loose five-film arc. Less successful as a stand-alone movie, but it tries something different, Craig and a guesting Ana de Armas are both great, and there’s neat moments aplenty among the bombast and soapy stuff.

Here’s the trailer.

Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021, dir. Sion Sono)

A captured bank robber is forced to retrieve a kidnapped woman for a gang boss. A post-apocalyptic samurai/western hybrid, using a Mad Max/Escape from New York structure for all kinds of digressions. It doesn’t all work (the script is the culprit here), but it looks great in a neon Terry Gilliam kinda way, and everyone seems to be having fun.

Here’s the trailer.

The Paper Tigers (2020, dir. Tran Quoc Bao)

Three middle-aged former martial arts students reunite to investigate the killing of their mentor. Straightforward but charming low-budget comedy with action elements: clearly a labour of love, there’s plenty to appreciate here, so the prospect of more from this writer-director is an appealing one.

Here’s the trailer.